NextEra’s renewables pipeline reaches highest level in firm’s history at 14.4GW

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NextEra’s renewables backlog now totals approximately 14.4GW. Image: NextEra.

NextEra Energy capitalised on the demand for low-cost renewables in the second quarter, adding 1,730MW to its pipeline in three months.

Thanks to the “terrific market opportunity” for solar, wind and battery storage, NextEra’s renewables backlog now totals approximately 14.4GW, the largest in the company’s roughly 20-year development history, according to CFO Rebecca Kujawa.

“To put our backlog into context, it is larger than the current operating wind and solar portfolios of all but two other companies in the world as of year-end 2019,” she said in a conference call with investors.

Despite supply chain challenges, NextEra expects to complete approximately 4.4GW of solar and wind projects this year, with all renewable developments achieving their in-service dates.

Echoing remarks made by CEO Jim Robo earlier this year, Kujawa said the company expects that by the middle of this decade without incentives, new near-firm wind and new near-firm solar “will be cheaper than the operating costs of most existing coal and nuclear facilities and less fuel-efficient oil and gas-fired generation units, producing significant long-term renewables demand”.

For the three months ended 30 June, NextEra posted net earnings of US$1.29 billion, up 13.5% year-on-year.

Q2 net earnings for the company's Florida Power & Light (FPL) subsidiary were up 13% on the year-ago period, while Gulf Power's earnings declined by 5%, in part due to the weather and COVID-19. Finally, earnings in the energy resources unit increased by 18.5% year-on-year.

In spite of issues created by the coronavirus pandemic, Kujawa said all the company’s units continue to perform well and maintain “excellent prospects for growth”.

The executive also highlighted investments made by the company in energy storage; of the 1,730MW added to its backlog during the quarter, 178MW is battery storage.

The FPL unit is currently building the 409MW Manatee storage facility in Florida, which will be one of the world's largest battery storage plants and is on track for completion next year.

In a move to take advantage of the investment tax credit, all the company's planned battery storage projects will be paired with either new or existing solar projects.

Kujawa said: “The continued strong demand for battery storage projects highlights the rapid transition to the next phase of renewables development that pairs low-cost wind and solar energy with a low-cost battery storage solution.”

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